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95th Birthday of Mohammad Reza Shah

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  • 95th Birthday of Mohammad Reza Shah

    This post is not only dedicated to His Imperial Majesty Shah-an-Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi who was born 95 years ago on 26th October 1919, but also to Reyhaneh Jabbari. The twenty-six-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged by the terrorist Islamic Republic in a Tehran prison yesterday at dawn. RI.P.

    Mohammad Reza Shah (26th October 1919 – 27th July 1980)
    Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (Persian: Mohamad Rez? ??h Pahlawi; [mohæm?mæd re?z?? ????he pæhlæ?vi?]?; 26th October 1919 – 27th July 1980) was Iran's Monarch (Shah of Iran) from 16th September 1941 after his father abdicated in his favour. He took the title ??han??h ("Emperor" or "King of Kings") on 26th October 1967.

    Although Iran, also called Persia, was the world’s oldest empire, dating back 2,500 years, by 1900 it was floundering. Bandits dominated the land; literacy was one percent; and women, under archaic Islamic dictates, had no rights.

    The Shah changed all this. Primarily by using oil-generated wealth, he modernized the nation. He built rural roads, postal services, libraries, and electrical installations. He constructed dams to irrigate Iran’s arid land, making the country 90-percent self-sufficient in food production. He established colleges and universities, and at his own expense, set up an educational foundation to train students for Iran’s future.

    The Shah was one of the first heads of state who visited Germany after WW II (here signing the guest book of Hamburg in 1955)
    To encourage independent cultivation, the Shah donated 500,000 Crown acres to 25,000 farmers. In 1978, his last full year in power, the average Iranian earned $2,540, compared to $160 25 years earlier. Iran had full employment, requiring foreign workers. The national currency was stable for 15 years, inspiring French economist André Piettre to call Iran a country of “growth without inflation.” Although Iran was the world’s second largest oil exporter, the Shah planned construction of 18 nuclear power plants. He built an Olympic sports complex and applied to host the 1988 Olympics (an honour eventually assigned Seoul), an achievement unthinkable for other Middle East nations.

    The Shah protected minorities and permitted non-Muslims to practice their faiths. “All faith,” he wrote, “imposes respect upon the beholder.” The Shah also brought Iran into the 20th century by granting women equal rights. This was not to accommodate feminism, but to end archaic brutalization.

    Commemorating the late Shah, his wife, Her Imperial Majesty Shahbanu Farah wrote:

    "Mohammad Reza Shah ascended the throne during the perilous and turbulent years of WWII, during which armed forces of Britain and the Soviet Union entered Iran’s soil and forced Reza Shah to abdicate the throne and leave the country, while both powers seemed to desire to see someone other than his eldest son become king. Since his early years on the throne, Mohammad Reza Shah had believed, and so stated, that the following five elements were a part of the fundamental rights of the Iranian people: Food, clothing, housing, education, and healthcare. However, the first 12 years of his reign were consumed by efforts to defend and maintain Iran’s independence and territorial integrity, including forcing the Soviet Union to vacate Iran’s soil, liberate Azerbaijan from the hands of a Soviet puppet regime, stand up to the ever-increasing power of the Tudeh Party, and secure Iran’s rights over its oil resources in the country’s southern regions.

    Farah Diba married Mohammed Reza Shah on 20th December 1959, aged 21.
    "Contrary to claims made by Mohammad Reza Shah’s opponents, it was he who encouraged Dr. Mossadegh to accept the post of prime minister, helping him gain Parliament’s vote of confidence. He never wavered from supporting Mossadegh against domestic and foreign enemies opponents? He felt obligated by the constitutional demands and powers of his office to dismiss Mossadegh, because Mossadegh had clearly failed to resolve the oil crisis, brought the country close to bankruptcy, and allowed the Tudeh Party, backed by Moscow, to achieve extraordinary power. Even then, had Mossadegh not forced the parliament that no longer supported him to dissolve by staging an illegal referendum, and had he still enjoyed parliamentary support, he would not have dismissed him.

    "Unlike the Islamic Republic that, knowingly or otherwise, has endangered Iran and the Iranians and has made them face threats of destruction and ruin, Mohammad Reza Shah considered guarding the nation from danger and harm to be the main duty of the government. For this reason, the Shah’s foreign policy was based on having friendly relations with the international community, while he considered a strong and modern military to be the guarantor of Iran’s protection from foreign invasion.

    "To truly appreciate Mohammad Reza Shah’s achievements for Iran, we must place them in context: the chaos of the war and oil nationalization years, and the social, economic, cultural and geostrategic evolution of Iran between 1954 and 1978. Within the short time-span of 24 years, Iran, still one of the most underdeveloped nations of the world in the 1940s, became an outstanding example of a rapidly developing economy and society during the 1960s and 70s, boasting one of the world’s highest rates of economic growth, as well as a rare record in the area of social welfare and cultural change. A few examples of Iran’s progress and development are as follows:

    "Iranian women were granted the right to vote, as well as the right to be appointed or elected to any position, including those of judges, lawmakers, and ministers. With the passage of laws concerning 'family welfare,' women were given equal rights with men, particularly in the areas of marriage and child custody. The number of women enrolled in universities rose steadily. The passage of the 'National Action' law, allowed women to participate and have a role in all governmental decisions that affected women’s status, freedom, equality, and other social issues. The basic principle of this action, long before it was adopted in other countries, was that women played a role in all events and aspects of the society, and were involved in its affairs.

    "Education and educational institutions spread across the country to towns and villages. In 1975, education and daily meals for every child, from kindergarten to eighth grade became free. A number of Iranian universities, including Aryamehr Technological University (now Sharif) and Pahlavi University in Shiraz were able to compete with the best institutions in developed countries. Nearly 60 thousand Iranian students were studying in some of the best universities in the West. By 1976, Iran had become the first nation among the countries of the “South” to reverse the brain-drain, providing what was necessary to make a qualitative leap in science and technology.

    "-Iran’s economy and society became outstanding models of development, with its income per capita that was less than $100 back in the 40?s, jumping to $2400 in 1978.

    "-Land Reform freed the farmers from the yoke of landowners; every farmer became a land-owner, able to farm and join cooperatives.

    "-In 1963, Sepah-e-Danesh (Education Corps) was established, and in 1964 and 1965 respectively, Sepah-e-Behdasht (Health Corps) and Sepah-e-Tarvij-va-Abadani (Reconstruction and Development Corps) were created to serve in small towns and villages.

    "-In 1965, the citizens themselves established Arbitration Councils and Houses of Justice to adjudicate problems.

    "-According to a newly passed law in 1975, the Iranian government was mandated to provide every Iranian social security benefits. The same year, workers gained the right to buy shares in large industrial plants.

    "-In 1975, pregnant women and children under the age of two received qualified to receive food and nutritional assistance.

    "-Unlike the Consortium Agreement of 1954, when Iran’s oil had not yet become truly nationalized, in 1973, the nationalization of oil became a reality. With Mohammad Reza Shah’s direct involvement, Iran’s government annulled the 1954 agreement and signed a new one to buy and sell oil with the Consortium’s individual members. The National Iranian Oil Company took complete control of the country’s production, exploration, exports, and marketing of oil. Iran also gained total ownership of its oil reserves. Member countries of the Consortium became Iran’s premier oil customers. In reality, with the signing of the new agreement, Iran attained its goal of nationalization of oil.

    "-Iran began to export natural gas to Europe by completing a pipeline and developing its natural gas industry. Had Iran been able to complete its petrochemical industry, it would have become one of the world’s major petrochemical centers a long time ago.

    "-In 1974, Iran launched its peaceful nuclear program to produce nuclear energy. Had the project continued, Iran could have had three German and French-built nuclear power plants by 1980-81.

    "-New industries, including steel-mills, machine-tool factories, and tractor manufacturing plants were built during that period by taking advantage of prudent and balanced relationships with the Eastern Bloc as well as the West.

    "-In the areas of environmental preservation, from water resources and forests to plants and animals, Iran had become on par with advanced nations.

    "-With its important strategic situation, Iran was striving to act as a bridge that would bring diverse cultures and nationalities together. Along the same lines, Iran pursued a series of cultural programs that included Shiraz Art Festival, Isfahan Folklore Festival, Toos Festival, as well as the establishment of new museums, and the promotion of music, cinema, and other visual arts. New theaters and cultural centers, government-run or private, were opening with increasing frequency. The first seminar on the “Dialogue of Civilizations” got underway in Tehran in 1978."

    In 1971 Iran celebrated 2,500 years of Monarchy.
    On the Shah's human rights record Alan Peters wrote:

    "No mass graves trailed the Shah when he finally quit the country in January, 1979. No 'death caravans' haunted his memory. Tehran produced no equivalent of Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo where 'grandmas' gather every Sunday to reclaim news of their missing children. To be sure the military courts were quick to mete out death sentences. But the practice of royal pardon was abundantly resorted to. The sentences were systematically commuted or annulled.

    "Some viewed this practice as a gimmick to earn political capital but be it as it may, few now dispute the fact that the Shah was averse to cruelty or execution. He even stayed Khomeini's execution in 1964.

    "The overall number of executions by the military tribunals, including those occasioned by drug related offenses, after drug smuggling and distribution became a capital offense, were estimated at around 350 cases in a 25-year period. The USA has more than this and Iran currently has close to 200 a year, including teen-agers of both genders, which contravenes all laws and even Iran's own.

    "Figured among them were a few prisoners of conscience including some twenty-five ring-leaders of the military wing of the Communist party of Iran. Their crime, leading to execution, was to have been mesmerized by Stalinist Russia. The rest of the six hundred communist officers arrested in nineteen fifties - as indeed the bulk of other political prisoners - were rehabilitated, many were co-opted into the Shah's administration."

    Iran's future: It will be bright and Monarchical.